In addition to grabbing jobs, what else will artificial intelligence bring?

In addition to grabbing jobs, what else will artificial intelligence bring? When the capabilities of artificial intelligence in mechanics, thinking, and emotions are comprehensively improved, and it can easily take over all the work of human beings, how should human beings handle themselves? How to ensure your own subjectivity?

With the rapid development of technology, “artificial intelligence replaces humans” has also become an increasingly serious real crisis behind the technology.

According to the World Bank’s 2016 Development Report, 57% of jobs in OECD countries will be replaced by artificial intelligence in the next 20 years. According to McKinsey, by 2030, at least 118 million people in China will be replaced by artificial intelligence or robots.

We probably don’t have much real feel for these icy statistics. In fact, in reality, the story of “artificial intelligence replacing humans” has been staged in all walks of life.

In 2017, Shanghai has already seen the first labor dispute case caused by the replacement of artificial intelligence in the country. The white-collar workers in the workplace who once earned a monthly salary of 30,000 were completely replaced by the introduction of artificial intelligence. The old club went to court.

“I did a lot of work for the launch of this system, but the result was that it replaced my manual position.” This employee is engaged in the company’s data collection and analysis work. After the ERP management system was launched, His human skills are useless in the face of artificial intelligence.

The company said, “From the perspective of time comparison, the work itself takes 8 hours. After the system is online, it may only take 10 minutes to complete the manual labor. We can also clearly see from her work content. Since August, her work content has been gradually reduced, so this position has no meaning to exist.” Due to issues such as labor contract compensation, the employee filed a labor arbitration.

The scene of “machine substitution” occurs more intensively in the manufacturing industry. With the application of industrial robots, this phenomenon is already being staged in batches. In 2013, China has surpassed Japan to become the world’s largest industrial Robot application market. In 2019, the total installed capacity of China’s industrial robots has reached 783,000 units. The impact of the new crown epidemic has further deepened and generalized the application scope and scale of automation equipment, and the impact on the labor market has gradually escalated.

The author’s research found that a Robot can basically replace 3-4 workers. Of these replaced workers, the lucky ones can be transferred to work as auxiliary machine operators, and some groups will lose their jobs directly.

There is currently no relatively accurate and comprehensive national or regional data to reveal how many workers are being replaced by industrial robots, but some local studies have shown that this issue cannot be ignored.

The research of scholars Sun Zhongwei and Deng Yunxue shows that the use of industrial robots in Guangdong manufacturing enterprises has become more common, and half of the enterprises in their survey sample have begun to implement “machine substitution”. In addition, Dongguan started the “machine substitution” project in 2014. According to the data of Dongguan Economic and Information Bureau, Guangdong Province, from September of that year to October 2016, a total of 1,485 special funds were declared for the project, which is expected to reduce the number of workers by 87,000.

With the continuous development of technologies such as tactile perception, image recognition, natural speech processing, and deep cognitive learning, the physical and mental intelligence of machines will continue to improve, and the ability to replace human labor will gradually shift from low-end jobs to mid-to-high-end jobs. upgrade.

Japanese economist Tomoyo Inoue even asserted in his book “Employment Collapse: Workplace Economics in the Post-Artificial Intelligence Era” that in the era of the fourth industrial revolution driven by strong artificial intelligence, the only production input necessary for production activities is AI and machines such as robots, while labor is no longer required or necessary.

  Job Demotion: Technological Advancement and Labor Degeneration

In fact, going back in history, from the perspective of the evolution of the previous industrial revolutions, it is a process in which the dominance of machines continues to rise and workers become increasingly marginalized.

In the age of traditional farming civilization and handicrafts, all labor can be completed by manpower alone. But with the advent of the era of big machines, labor has gradually changed from a subjective behavior based on manual techniques to an objective craft based on machines. As Marx put it, “The particular technique of labor becomes more and more abstract and undifferentiated, and labor becomes more and more purely abstract, purely mechanical, and therefore undifferentiated and indifferent to the particular form of labor. Activity.”

Workers gradually change from the “leader” of the labor process to the “auxiliary” of the machine. They only need to perform a series of standardized and mechanized actions. In fact, they have experienced a process of “de-skilling”. Progress is proportional.

In the age of the industrial economy, de-skilling only separates the “concept” from the labor process of workers, but a considerable amount of “execution” still requires certain skills to be competent. However, with the improvement of the level of machine intelligence, machines can not only replace workers in simple and repetitive manual operations (such as assembly, labeling, loading and unloading, etc.), but also engage in some operations that require both skill and flexibility (such as welding, polishing, spraying, etc.), the “execution” process can also be completely replaced.

Nowadays, in some highly intelligent “lighthouse factories” and “unmanned factories”, the content of execution from loading and unloading to production and processing can be completely replaced by robots, and front-line workers only need to serve as “watchmen” to ensure that the production line does not become stuck. That’s enough – they’re not even good enough to be called “production workers”.

The “employment downgrade” brought about by “de-skilling” is first reflected in the level of labor remuneration. When these “skilled workers” are reduced to “general workers”, their income is also reduced accordingly; and labor relations are also more unstable. In addition to contract workers, they are more inclined to recruit short-term workers such as dispatch workers, student workers, summer workers, and temporary workers. The degeneration of skills superimposes a shadow on the long-term development of workers.

It is true that from the perspective of the long-term development process, the total amount of technology will create more jobs, but the pain of short-term unemployment will inevitably be borne by micro-individuals in reality. Their suffering and tears were drowned in the noisy internet age. How to smoothly transition and transfer these large numbers of low- and medium-skilled labor is a key issue in the era of artificial intelligence.

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Published on 08/27/2022